How to Deadlift Properly

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The Deadlift… labeled the king of mass building exercises. No doubt, deadlifting is a bad ass mass and strength builder, but learning how to deadlift properly is extremely important. Without proper technique you can easily limit your gains, or worse, injure yourself in the process. This short guide aims to inform beginners and experienced lifters alike on the proper techniques for deadlifting that will help eliminate pain, injury and plateaus.

Performing deadlifts is probably one of the best exercises you can do to build muscle mass, ranked with the squat as the best overall size and strength builder. It works virtually all of your muscle groups on your body with a ton of weight.

Performing a deadlift correctly will also help you learn how to correctly lift things with your legs rather than your back. This can help prevent common injuries such as hernias.

relentless gains deadlift

How to Properly Deadlift

Of course you will always begin each deadlift with the bar flat on the floor. Pulling the bar from the pins on a rack is a rack pull, and deadlifting from the top down is known as a Romanian deadlift. Standard deadlifts ALWAYS begin with the bar on the floor.

To properly deadlift perform the following:

  1. Always begin a deadlift with your body positioned in the center of the bar. You don’t want uneven weight distribution when lifting. The middle of the bar should be over the space between your feet. Your feet should be a little less than shoulder width apart to allow proper room for your arms to perform the lift, and your shins should be around 4″ away from the bar.
  2. Reach straight down and wrap your hands over the top of the bar. You can grasp the bar with an Under/Overhand Grip or grip with both hands, palms facing your body.
  3. Take in a big breath of air, bend your knees until your shins reach the bar. At this point your shoulders should be directly over the bar. Double check to make sure you are perfectly centered over the bar.
  4. With your back completely straight lift your chest. Keep your form rigid and don’t squeeze your shoulders together like you would when performing squats. Keep your shoulders down and hold them back. Keep your head straight and in line with your spine.
  5. Drive your feet into the floor, pulling the bar close to your body as it is lifted. Roll it over your knees and thighs gently. Once you reach the top of the lift at lockout, resist the urge to lean back. Keep your body perfectly straight.
  6. You want to keep your back straight and resist the urge to lean or bend while raising and lowering the bar. When lowering the bar first begin by bending your hips and finish by bending your knees once the bar has cleared them.

Common Mistakes

Some of the Most Common Deadlifting Mistakes Include:

Not lowering the bar all the way to the floor. You are only doing a partial lift if you aren’t lifting the bar off the floor with each and every rep.

Wearing gloves. Gloves can easily kill your grip strength and won’t do anything to help prevent callused hands. Don’t even bother.

Moving your shoulders. When you roll your shoulders you can easily injure them. Keep them locked in place, especially at the top of the lift.

Wearing shoes. If you wear shoes that have compressible soles (think running shoes) you will lose power and stability. Choose shoes with a hard sole or lift barefoot.

Avoiding these costly mistakes will improve your form, your performance, and prevent injuries.

Breaking through Plateaus

Here are a few tips you can use to help break through your deadlift plateaus:

  • Deadlift more often. Don’t skip this exercise to do others.
  • Master your technique. Use lighter weights if you need to when practicing proper form.
  • Strengthen your grip. You can’t lift what you can’t grip
  • Warm up properly. Start with reps at lower weights to help master form and warm up properly

Deadlift Demonstration Video:

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